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  • Android Phones Targeted for Sophisticated New SMS Scam

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

If you own a smartphone running an Android OS – you’re probably already paying through the nose on your phone bills. There’s no denying that phone plans in Ontario are prohibitively expensive, and many of us tend to not look at our bills due to that combination of dread and anxiety. But take a look at your bill now, because Android has been the target of a series of exploits that is costing some owners hundreds of dollars on their bills –and it may go on for months before they notice it.

How do SMS Scams Work?

This scam involves your phone allowing remote access to unknown agents, who then use targeted SMS (short message systems, ie. Texting) that racks up charges on your phone bill secretly. This money goes directly into the scammer’s bank account, and the process is exceedingly difficult to trace and curb. Similar to virus scales back in the early 2000s, this practice is becoming increasingly commonplace, hard to police, and has made the internet a wild west all over again.

Being robbed directly from these operators is really only the tip of the iceberg. Apps on smartphones collect a variety of data about you and your phone. Where you go, when you connect to networks, how often you use social media, how often you download things. Some apps even allow direct access to your phone, an open invitation for someone to delete data, change data, or install something you don’t know about.

How Are You Getting Infected?

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s a number of ways you can be infected, though the experts at Panda Security suggest that there’s really two primary vectors: adult sites and apps with malware, often videogames.

That adult sites contain malware and viruses is news to nobody, but the insertion of SMS malware in apps is particularly concerning, especially for Android users, because Android is an open-source platform with very little control or regulation from Google. While it also occurs on iPhones running iOS, Apple runs a much tighter ship on its App Store, leaving Android as the victim of about 80% of scams involving SMS.

Other forms of malware may introduce fake security popups, telling the user that they have been infected (at least they’re honest), and requiring you to download a virus checker or malware remover to continue. These programs are uniformly designed to introduce more malicious code to your device, and should be avoided to curb the damage.

What Can You Do To Prevent SMS Scams?

The only real advice to avoid SMS scams, among the fastest growing online scams in the world, is to avoid downloading any apps, programs, or files from sources that you do not trust. For Android, this means sticking solely to the Google Play Store, though keep in mind that this isn’t necessarily a safe system either.

You may also wish to invest in a malware from a secure source, which are available in free and paid varieties from businesses such as McAfee, MalwareBytes and so on. These can help detect and remove malware used for SMS scams before the damage can continue.

Finally, review your phone bill every month and note any discrepancies in your billing. People have been robbed for months because they don’t keep up to date with their bills, and this is ultimately the most effective way to learn if you’ve been targeted.

We can be addicted to our phones, and that makes being exploited by them all the easier. No system or format is secure against malware, only the right precautions and care can prevent you from being another name on a scam list.

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